Winter 2006

Editorial Eye 62

My battered Collins dictionary lists nineteen meanings for the word ‘character’, noting that it comes from the Greek word ‘kharakter’, meaning engraver’s tool. And many of those meanings can be applied to the contents of this issue of Eye. For example ‘a symbol used in a writing system, such as a letter of the alphabet’, covers the five typography features in this issue. These include the smart technological innovations of Eric Olson’s foundry (‘Practice and Process’, pp.18-25), the beautifully set first edition of Eric Gill’s Essay on Typography (‘Visions of Joanna’, pp.26-28) and the overview of electronic type (‘Electrifying the alphabet’, pp.38-43). But the other meanings have resonance: character as in ‘an outstanding person’, ‘integrity’ or ‘reputation’, which could all be applied to Ruari McLean, editor of Motif, the subject of Rick Poynor’s carefully researched article ‘A world made visible’, pp.50-59.

The character design covered briefly in our report from the Pictoplasma conference in Berlin (‘Emotion graphics’, pp.60-64) would seem to take its name from my dictionary’s seventh definition: ‘a person represented in a play, film, story, etc.’ Yet the organisers’ definition of character is a little different: creatures such as Gary Baseman’s and Motomichi Nakamura’s spring direct from their creators’ minds, while their fans and collectors fill in the back story.

There is a further array of fascinating characters (to use yet another definition of the term) featured in the Uncoated section (pp.73-87), which reviews recent books by poet Ian McMillan and illustrator Andy Martin, Shepard Fairey, John Maeda and others. There’s more typography, too, with reports from TypeCon in Boston and the 50th ATypI conference in Lisbon.

This issue of Eye comes out at an interesting time for the magazine. We have about 1000 more subscribers than we had a year ago. Some of these are students drawn in by the heavily discounted subscription offer (see p.70), but the majority are working designers – in employment, or running their own practices. Many of you are also involved in education, as teachers, course leaders or in research.

This boom in new readers is a welcome endorsement of Haymarket’s decision to purchase Eye last year and to invest in the title. Two other projects owe their existence to our new owner’s initiatives: the image portfolio No two dreams are the same, bundled with this issue, and the Eye Forum ‘Burning Issues’, held at London’s rsa in November. Other ventures are planned to introduce Eye to new readers: a ‘careers guide’ for design students; collaborations with the education sector; an expanded and revised website; other events and forums, perhaps outside London and the UK. We welcome your feedback with regard to these new ideas, and of course we always appreciate your response to the project at the heart of it all, the latest issue of Eye itself. JLW